By Francois Murphy
VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran has unveiled concrete steps to produce enriched uranium metal for up to 20% purity for reactor fuel, the UN’s atomic watchdog said on Tuesday, describing a move likely to infuriate powers. Westerners in talks to reactivate the Iran nuclear deal.
Iran has been in indirect talks with the United States since April to reactivate the 2015 agreement, which was abandoned by former US President Donald Trump. The agreement placed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, and after Trump withdrew, Iran began violating many of its restrictions.
Tehran has already produced a small amount of metallic uranium this year that was not enriched. That is a breach of the agreement, which prohibits all work with metallic uranium, as it can be used to make the core of a nuclear bomb.
Iran has outlined plans to produce enriched uranium metal, saying it is developing fuel for its Tehran research reactor, but Washington and its European allies question Tehran’s intentions and have asked it to stop.
“Today, Iran informed the Agency that UO2 (uranium oxide) enriched up to 20% in U-235 would be sent to the R&D laboratory of the Esfahan fuel fabrication plant, where it would be converted into UF4 (tetrafluoride of uranium) and then in metallic uranium enriched 20% in U-235 before using it to make the fuel, “said a statement from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Summarizing a report to its member states, the IAEA described the plan as a “multi-stage process”, suggesting that it will take time before the enriched metal is produced.
The report is likely to increase tensions in the talks, which include the other parties to the 2015 agreement. The talks were suspended on June 20 and no date has yet been set for their resumption.
“This is clearly an escalation, clearly another message from Iran that in the absence of a restoration (of the nuclear deal), they will continue to increase their capacity and pressure,” said Bob Einhorn, a non-proliferation expert at Brookings. Institutional think tank.
Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any responsibility for loss or damage as a result of reliance on information, including data, quotes, charts, and buy / sell signals contained on this website. Be fully informed about the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest forms of investment possible.